Buffs Hand Out 2008-09 Awards
BOULDER -- The annual University of Colorado Basketball Banquet was held Sunday night in the Byron White Stadium Club at Folsom Field as fourth-year head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller and her staff handed out the team awards for the 2008-09 season.
Sophomore Brittany Spears claimed the Offensive Player of the Year Award. A 2009 All-Big 12 Conference second team selection, Spears led Colorado and ranked third in the Big 12 Conference in scoring at 18.3 points per game, the sixth best single-season scoring average in team history. She became just the second CU player to reach 1,000 career points as a sophomore, joining CU Athletic Hall of Famer Lisa Van Goor, and her 530 points this season were the ninth most in team history. Spears had the highest single-game scoring output in the Big 12 this season, recording 36 points against UMass. Spears also ranked among the Big 12's best in nearly every statistical category. Besides her scoring she was also second in minutes, seventh in rebounds, eighth in steals, ninth in 3-point percentage and blocks, 10th in field goal percentage, and 12th in free-throw percentage and 3-pointers made.
Spears also won the Lisa Van Goor Rebounding Award. Spears led Colorado in rebounding in 2008-09, totaling 227 for an average of 7.8 per game. Overall she ranked seventh in the Big 12 and her four defensive rebounds per game ranked fourth among all league players. Spears had eight games with double-digit rebounding totals, reaching a season-high 13 twice, first in the Idaho State game and then in the win at Missouri. In just two seasons she already has 486 rebounds which ranks 20th on CU's all-time list.
Freshman Alyssa Fressle won the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Fressle was named to the 2009 All-Big 12 Rookie team after leading all league freshmen in steals, assists and minutes played and ranking third in scoring. She was Colorado's leader in assists this season, becoming the first freshman to top the Buffaloes in that category since Linda Lappe in 1999. Overall on the Big 12 charts she ranked seventh in assists, 10th in steals and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Fressle was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week during the final weekend of the regular season by averaging 11 points, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and two rebounds while hitting 50 percent from the field in games against Nebraska and Kansas State.
Fressle is just the second freshman to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award since the honor was started in 1992, joining Spears who won the award last year. Despite being a true freshman, Fressle was called upon to play straight up against some of the nation's best backcourt players including All-America candidates Andrea Riley of Oklahoma State and Shalee Lehning of Kansas State. She recorded 52 steals on the year, ranking second on the team and also had 11 blocked shots, the third best on the team and most by a backcourt player.
Senior center Kara Richards was the recipient of the Most Improved Player Award and the Ultimate Team Award which has been given every year since 1984 to recognize attitude, leadership, desire and commitment. On of three team captains in 2008-09, Richards answered the call to step up her play, registering her finest season at Colorado. She ranked second on the team in scoring and rebounding with career season-bests of 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. She led the Buffaloes and ranked second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 57.7 percent. Richards played her best basketball at the end of the season. She had three of her five career double-doubles in the last seven games and was Colorado's leading scorer over the final six games averaging just over 20 points per contest. Richards had six games of 20-plus points, four of which came in the final three weeks of the season. A 2009 honorable mention All-Big 12 pick and second team Academic All-Big 12 selection, Richards graduated this past December with her bachelor's degree in history.
Senior guard/forward Hannah Skildum earned the "Sixth Man" Award and the Crystal Ford-Adams' Scholar Athlete Award. As she has been throughout her four-year career, Skildum was Colorado's ultimate utility player and consistently the first player off the bench. She was Colorado's go to player for a defensive stop, an offensive rebound or a needed spark of energy. Skildum was CU's most experienced player in terms of games played, seeing action in 120 career contests. She totaled the team's most assists and steals and had the second-most points and blocked shots coming off the bench.
A 2009 Academic All-Big 12 first team selection, and a member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, Skildum is scheduled to graduate in May with her bachelor's degree in communications.
Junior guard Whitney Houston received the Community Service Award. Despite missing the 2008-09 playing season due to a knee injury, Houston continued to be active in her community. She helped at an annual fundraiser for the Emergency Family Assistance Association, as the Buffaloes auctioned off a basketball clinic that brought in over $2,000 for EFAA. Houston taught basketball skills to area youth at the National Girls & Women in Sport Day on Feb. 7 and has made several speaking engagements, sharing her life experiences while being a student-athlete at CU.
Sophomore guard Chelsea Dale was the recipient of the Practice Player Award for contributions on scout teams and overall performance during practice sessions. Dale, who saw playing time in 11 games as a second-year player, was commended by the coaching staff for her overall attitude, enthusiasm and energy not only in practice but during games whether she is on the floor or on the bench.